Camera rental is a topic not nearly enough photographers consider when planning their next photography trip. Why not expand your capabilities by picking up new, temporary options for your interchangeable lens camera?
Whether you’re taking a once in a lifetime trip to Iceland or in need of a specialized portrait lens for a model shoot, photography gear rental should be on your radar. That way, you come back with the precise images you envisioned, rather than feeling as if you need to head back a second or third time.
If you’re looking at picking up new gear for keeps, camera rental companies can help save you money as well. New gear may not be all its cracked up to be – and gear you thought you only needed once may be far better than expected! Photo gear rentals are a much smarter way of adding to your kit than buying gear blind.
We’ll be breaking down the rental process as well here, including what to look for in a rental company, where to rent photography equipment, supporting local vs online businesses, the costs involved, and much more! Let’s explore how to rent photography gear together!
- Why you should rent camera gear?
- Where to rent camera gear
- How to rent camera gear
- How much do camera rental cost?
Why you should rent camera gear?
Photo gear rental is not always on the minds of even professional photographers. We often assume we should have exactly the right tools for the job at all times. Even if that tool sits on the shelf 80% of the time.
There are many benefits of camera rental services, including saving money, testing out new equipment, access to specialized gear, and having the right tool for the job! Expanding your repertoire is never a bad thing!
Photography gear rental is a good way to save money
One reason to rent a camera lens is for occasional projects that need kit not part of your normal workflow. Say you’re a portrait photographer who decides to pick up a sports gig.
Perhaps you’re unsure if sports photography will become part of your normal workflow or not. By renting photography gear instead of buying it, you can test the waters, rather than feeling committed since you now own a $1500 f/2.8 telephoto zoom lens.
You can rent Camera gear to test it out before your purchase
Camera gear is expensive so it’s a good idea to test it out before investing. While gear reviewers give us plenty of details on the latest camera accessories, it’s hard to really know how well a piece of kit will work until you have it in hand to test.
If you’re looking at an upgrade but unsure how useful it will be, you can rent a professional camera like the Sony A7R IV. While 61 megapixels sounds like fun, you might find the gigantic files it creates more bother than you expected!
Camera lens rentals offer similar value. If you find a widely acclaimed zoom lens isn’t as sharp or versatile as you expected, a weekend rental will save you the trouble of a return or resell, often at reduced value.
Camera lens rental make special lenses accessible
Sometimes you’ll need equipment that just isn’t affordable under normal circumstances. The AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E is an eye-watering $12,299.95 brand new. 4 kilograms of image-stabilized, full-frame glass, perfect for high-quality images of distant wildlife.
At first glance, this seems like a purposeless luxury lens that’s only affordable for professional wildlife and sports photographers.
However, this lens is widely available through camera rental companies in the USA, and for much less than $12,299.95. If you need a premium quality, highly specialized lens for a specific project, photography gear rental agencies can expand your toolkit dramatically.
You can rent a professional camera for a specific event
Event photographers, in particular, can make good use of knowing where to rent photography equipment. As a generalist event photographer, you may be called on to shoot a dark nightclub one day and high school sports the day after.
Do you happen to own both a fast, wide zoom or prime and a fast telephoto zoom? If so, great! But you can save yourself the trouble of agonizing over your ever-expanding kit through photo gear rental.
Where to rent camera gear
Working with camera rental companies is easier than ever in today’s world of internet commerce. While the largest companies are based in the USA, we’ve collected details on several other international companies that provide similar services. Both local pickup and online delivery options are available as well as flexible rental policies that provide maximum benefit for minimal fuss.
- Where to rent cameras and lenses in the USA
- Where to rent camera equipment in the UK
- Camera gear rental in Canada
- Camera and lens rental in Australia
There are two main companies that rent photography gear in the USA: LensRental and BorrowLenses.
LensRentals is currently the largest photography gear rental agency in the USA. If you’re looking for the largest selection, premium customer service, and flexible rental policies, LensRental is just right for you. I have been renting camera gear with them for two years now, and they are fast, cheap, reliable and the support service exceeded my expectations.
The Keeper program is perfect for photographers looking to try a piece of equipment out before purchase. Up to 7 days of rental fees can be credited towards purchasing the photography equipment rental!
LensRentals has streamlined their service enough that they offer $99/year free standard shipping and 50% off overnight shipping for all rentals through their LensRentals HD program.
Their LensCap+ insurance policies are top-class as well. If you choose to forgo, you’re potentially liable for 100% of the replacement costs. LensCap+ covers drops, liquid spills, and bear attacks (seriously), and limits your liability to the cost of repair or 10% replacement value, whichever is less. LensCap++ expands the protection to include theft and natural disasters.
We rent most of the time with them and you can get a 15% off when booking from this link.
BorrowLenses has an especially large Canon and Nikon selection, unsurprising given they are the two largest brands. But other brands are merely respectable in choice compared to LensRentals.
As the smaller of the two major companies for camera rentals in the USA, BorrowLenses offers a more straightforward rental experience. You don’t have the Keeper options but you do have insurance in the form of GearGuard and GearGuard Pro. In case disaster strikes, GearGuard ensures you’re only liable for 12% of the replacement value, with GearGuard Pro expanding the range of covered incidents.
BorrowLenses also has a small but respectable selection of used cameras and lenses for shoppers looking to save money on new purchases. Lastly, they offers multiple pickup locations nation-wide, concentrated in coastal CA, WA, and the Philadelphia-Boston corridor.
HireACamera and LensPimp are two of the best camera rental companies in the UK.
When an order is placed online through HireACamera, you have the choice to have it shipped by courier, arriving next day by 12:00 pm., or picking it up locally at select London Camera Exchange locations across the country.
HireACamera offers a loyalty program series of discounts based on the amount of orders over time. Their tiers include 5% Blue and 10% off Gold Tier member discounts, as well as smaller deposits required for gear rentals.
HireACamera‘s insurance policies are tied into optional Damage Waiver Deposits, which are less than the security deposit on gear with a total replacement cost of £5,000 or below. Note also that the Damage Waiver Deposit does not include theft or accidental loss; you’re still liable for the full cost of the rental gear.
LensPimp is another competitive choice, offering next day shipping for orders placed as late as 3 pm the previous day. LensPimp also doesn’t require a deposit in most cases, save higher priced or especially unique gear, which will be mentioned before the order is placed. New users are required to have ID and proof of address, however.
Like other camera rental companies, LensPimp has an expansive Canon/Nikon collection, with selections focused on professional level choices in Fujifilm X, Sony E, and other smaller manufacturers.
GearBASE and OntarioCamera are two of the best camera rental companies in Canada.
Vancouver-based camera rental company GearBASE is a good choice for gear rentals if you’re located in Western Canada or Seattle, WA. Rentals are required to be returned by noon the day after your last rental day lest you incur a late fee for the day.
GearBASSE offers not just photography equipment, but lighting, drones, tripods, and other accessories. They offer competitive rates on high-end videography equipment like the Arri Alexa and Red Monstro.
Deposits aren’t required with GearBASE unless renting high end photography and videography equipment. Or unless trying to reserve equipment more than 14 days before the date of pickup.
On the other end of Canada is OntarioCamera. Newly launched in 2015, they specialize in videography gear rentals ranging from complete camera rigs to fully equipped Sprinter vans!
As a one-stop shop for both consumer and professional level motion picture needs, OntarioCamera has a small selection of cinema-quality interchangeable lens cameras like the Sony A7S II but photographers should look elsewhere.
We find two camera lens rental companies in Australia: Ted’s Cameras and CameraHire.
Ted’s Cameras, partnering with Studio 19 Rentals, offers a long-term photo gear rental service in addition to their robust new and used selection of equipment.
Gear rentals have a minimum time period of 6 months, which isn’t nearly as flexible or practical as other agencies. But if you have unique requirements, such as long term trip abroad or a motion picture, this may work in your favor. Ted’s also offers the option to purchase rental gear, with remaining time debited towards the total cost of the gear in question.
Sydney-based camera rental company CameraHire is more traditional its approach. Pickup and drop-off options, as well as same day delivery, is available for customers in the Sydney metro area and overnight delivery available across Australia.
Insurance on rental gear is simply 9% of the rental fee. This covers accidental loss and damage, theft, and covers equipment while in transit within Australia.
Unlike Ted’s Cameras, CameraHire is strongly videography-centric. Their selection includes mostly cinema lenses and camera bodies like the Panasonic GH5 and Z Cam E2 4K.
How to rent camera gear
Let’s get into how to rent photography gear. While choosing new pieces of equipment is fairly subjective, there are some specifics to the photography gear rental process worth learning about. We’ll explore several questions and mental notes that should be part of your decision-making process below!
1. Local vs. online Camera rental?
Local photo gear rentals have several advantages over online rentals. For one, you’re able to save on shipping fees by picking up your camera rental in person. You’re also able to avoid shipping mishaps, like lost or stolen packages, and don’t need to be present to sign for a package delivery. Lastly, you’re helping to support local brick and mortar businesses, which desperately need the help in the Amazon era.
Online camera gear rentals are hard to ignore, however. By renting through the internet, you can expand your selection if your local camera rental companies don’t own certain equipment. If you don’t live near a major city, having packages delivered straight to your door is far more convenient than hours driving to and from the rental company. Lastly, online camera gear rental companies have lower prices because many don’t maintain a physical storefront. In the end, I always rent at online camera rental companies. When I am in the USA, LensRentals is the company I use.
2. Choose a Camera rental company with great customer service
When renting for the first time, set your mind at ease by searching for customer feedback about the company in question. Look for reviews on websites like TrustPilot, Google Maps, and Yelp to get a feel for how satisfied their customers tend to be.
Great customer service in the form of good selection, rapid shipping, fast responses, and few major issues are hallmarks of a perfect camera rental company. No company is perfect. But if issues like late arrivals or the wrong camera lens rental received to come up consistently, they are probably a company to avoid.
3. Make sure they offer Camera rental insurance
Rental insurance is tremendously important because you can’t control all circumstances. A rogue wave at the beach, a bicyclist not paying attention, or a careless child could easily do irreparable damage to your rented camera or lens.
Nearly all camera rental companies offer it as an add-on for additional fees. While it may stretch your budget, we strongly recommend picking up rental insurance. Otherwise, an accident beyond your control may leave you on the hook for thousands of dollars.
4. Check if the photography gear rental is available for your dates
Choosing your dates well in advance is important. Even with large camera rental companies like LensRentals, there is tremendous turnover. A popular, versatile lens like a 70-200mm f/2.8 may be booked for weeks in advance by several people at once.
Keep in mind rental agencies also block out dates to ensure time for the lens to arrive and depart from the photographer’s locations. A 3 day rental by one photographer on the other side of the country may actually take up a week or more of rental calendar space!
5. Place your Camera gear rental order
When placing your camera gear rental order, you want to give yourself as much time as possible for the equipment to arrive. Not only because of people ahead of you but in case of delays due to the Postal Service or other unforeseeable instances. If you schedule for your package arriving on the day of the trip and a delivery delay occurs, you may find yourself with a major dilemma. Also, having your photo gear rental in hand the day before ensures you can properly test your temporary gear for any issues and follow up instantly with the camera rental company if necessary.
Don’t forget accessories to go along with your photo gear rental. If you decide to pick up a wide-angle landscape lens for your backcountry trip, you’ll probably need an appropriately sized polarizing or neutral density filter!
6. Enjoy your Camera rental!
Now that you’re armed with a shiny new piece of technology, it’s time to make the most of your camera lens rental and head out for your planned photoshoot! Make sure to take extra good care of it while you have fun and if you fall in love with it, maybe you’ll be looking at a purchase in the near future!
7. Ship your photo gear rental back
When returning your photography gear rental, you’ll want to be as precise as possible. Packaging often doesn’t reform quite the way you expect; taking a photograph of how the camera or lens is arranged can ease returning it to the camera rental company.
It’s also essential you save the shipping package; most rental gear comes with a pre-addressed return label meant to be attached to the box. Many companies, like LensRentals, also work through FedEx, UPS, and other private shipping companies. By scanning the label and attaching it to the provided box, you can return the rental gear with minimal effort.
How much does camera rental cost?
Let’s look at a few test scenarios through LensRentals, to get an idea for the costs involved.
For our first scenario, let’s say I want to try my first photography gear rental for a landscape trip to the Canadian Rockies. I might choose the tried and true Nikon D810 and Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 combination for 7 days.
Scenario 2 involves a once-in-a-lifetime safari trip to Africa, where I’ll need the reach of the Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS, a $2000 lens.
And our last plausible scenario involves picking up an additional A9 body as a backup for 2 days of wedding or sports event photography coverage.
How do the prices break down?
Photo Gear Rental Fees
- 7-day Landscape Kit (Nikon D810 + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8:): $104 for D810, $71 for Sigma 14-24mm
- 15-day Safari Lens (Sony FE 200-600mm): $105
- 2-day Event Camera (Sony A9): $221
Camera Rental Insurance Fees
- 7-day Landscape Kit (Nikon D810 + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8:): $16 LensCap/$24 LensCap+ for D810, $12 LensCap/$18 LensCap+ for 14-24mm f/2.8
- 15-day Safari Lens (Sony FE 200-600mm): $16 LensCap/$24 LensCap+
- 2-day Event Camera (Sony A9): $34 LensCap/$51 LensCap+
Camera Rental Shipping Fees
- 7-day Landscape Kit (Nikon D810 + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8:): FedEx Standard Shipping: $30, UPS Standard Shipping $36
- 15-day Safari Lens (Sony FE 200-600mm): $25 Fedex Standard Shipping/$30 UPS Standard Shipping
- 2-day Event Camera (Sony A9): $25 Fedex Standard Shipping/$30 UPS Standard Shipping
Total price: How much is camera rental?
Total Rental Fee Breakdown with LensCap+ coverage:
- 7-day Landscape Kit (Nikon D810 + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8:): $247
- 15-day Safari Lens (Sony FE 200-600mm): $154
- 2-day Event Camera (Sony A9): $297
In all three scenarios, you’re looking at substantial savings compared to owning these speciality cameras and bodies outright. Remember that you can also use a 15% discount in LensRentals when booking through our link and code:
Conclusion: Is Camera rental worth it?
Thanks to the connectivity of the internet, camera gear rentals have never been easier and more affordable. Renting camera gear in the USA is particularly easy, given the large selection and reach of companies like BorrowLenses and LensRentals. But other countries have comparable services that allow you to expand your selection when needed, including the UK’s LensPimp and Australia’s CameraHire.
Since we’re all concerned about unforeseen circumstances putting us on the hook for additional money, camera rental insurance provides peace of mind as well as coverage. Testing a lens or camera body before purchasing allows you to take your time by taking the equipment out on a real trial run. And many agencies also offer discounts if purchased after the rental period. Regardless of whether you prefer local pickup or online deliveries to your door, there’s a photography equipment rental agency out there that’s just right for you!